Startbay Notebooks

My Fountain Pen Day Line-Up

The fist Friday of November marks International Fountain Pen Day. This year to celebrate I have decided to share the fountain pens I am using and the paper products I use with them.

Lamy LX, Tacticle Turn Gist, Kaweco AL Sport, Kaweco Skyline Sport and the Pilot Kakuno

Lamy LX, Tacticle Turn Gist, Kaweco AL Sport, Kaweco Skyline Sport and the Pilot Kakuno

Fountain pen and ink combinations

Lamy LX in Rose Gold with a medium nib and KWZ Brown Pink - this is a new fountain pen and ink combination both bought at the London Pen Show. The rose gold colour of this pen is gorgeous and works so well with the KWZ Brown Pink ink, it's a natural pairing. Over the past few months I have been enjoying broader nib widths and the medium nib on the Lamy LX is perfect. This was I get to really see and enjoy the inks I am using.

Tactile Turn Gist with a fine nib and Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai - this combination is left over from my 1 week 1 pen mini series. It’s my sensible combination that I can use is almost all scenarios.

Kaweco AL Sport with a fine nib and J. Herbins Bleu Nuit - I really love my AL Sport. The grey colour is so nice in person and the Bleu Nuit seems to be the perfect ink colour for this pen. It’s a very wintery fountain pen and ink partnership.

Kaweco Skyline sport with an extra fine nib and Diamine Ancient Copper - I love the mint colour of this fountain pen, it’s possibly one of my favourites. I have this loaded with a Diamine Ancient Copper cartridge, an ink colour I have been keen to try for some time. The thing is I am not sure that this pairing works very well, therefore I don’t see this partnership lasting long.

Pilot Kaukuno with a medium nib and Pilot Iroshizuku Syo-ro - I love my Kakuno. As it’s a simple, entry level fountain pen I don’t feel too precious about it and its one that comes on the move with me. I opted for Iroshizuku Syo-ro as it’s a nice deep green for the autumnal season.

The notebooks I am using

The notebooks I am using

My current paper choices

The Soukime plain A5 slim notebook is used for blog post planning and outlining of ideas. I have this with plain paper in the dark green cover.

I have a Midori Kraft notebook that I use as a photo journal. This is crammed with photos of my son documenting the small developments he is making and the things we are doing together. This isn’t a journal I use everyday and is somewhere I can experiment with different journaling techniques.

My Rhodia staple bound ruled notebook is being used for notes for my Open University course. I am using this in my Start Bay Navigator.

I have a Clairefontaine ruled notebook for morning pages, or my version of it. This is also in my Navigator.

I am using a Field Notes Lunacy edition notebook to capture notes on the move and for some journaling on the go.

I have the English version of the Hobonichi Techo which I am currently using as a sort of bullet journaling and planning notebook.

My Midori 019 free weekly refill is being used as a small memory keeper recording snippets of my day.

Fountain pen day 2016

I have found that my fountain pen usage has swayed towards Western brands and that I have begun to enjoy a range of different nib sizes. A year ago all of my fountain pen choices would have been extra-fine or fine nibs, but this isn’t the case any more. I have tried to align my current ink colours to the time of year enjoying Autumnal tones. As usual I am using a lot of different notebooks at one time, (I plan on streamlining this a lot next year). Due to my love of fountain pens I have found and acquired a range of notebooks that have the right types of paper for fountain pens.

This year I won't be celebrating Fountain Pen day by adding to my foutain pens as I am happy with my purchases from the London Pen Show. Instead I will be enjoying some time writing and appreciating those fountain pens I own.

Start Bay Notebooks Navigator Review

Start Bay Navigator in Chic Tan with brown elastic

Start Bay Navigator in Chic Tan with brown elastic

Before I get into this product review I want to point out that the kind folks at Start Bay Notebooks sent me the Navigator to test out with the purpose of reviewing it here on the blog. This has not impacted on my thoughts of the Navigator and in this review you will get my honest opinions.

When you receive the Start Bay Navigator you immediately get a hint that this is a serious product because of its packaging. Whilst packaging is not the most important thing when you buy a product I believe that it shows a company has thought about all aspects of the product they are selling. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive it should just show care of the item(s) it holds. I feel that Start Bay gets this balance right. They package up their products in a cloth bag tied with string and a leather branded tag. It’s simple but it works really well.

Start Bay packaging

Start Bay packaging

When I was contacted by Start Bay they asked if I had a preference for the leather cover I wanted to test drive. I opted for the Chic Tan Navigator which is the A5 size leather notebook cover. At the time the Chic Tan was a new colour offering and I had only ever used darker colour notebook covers. I also wanted to try out a larger size cover and see how I fared with it.

A peek inside my Navigator. Thick high quality leather.

A peek inside my Navigator. Thick high quality leather.

Initially the Start Bay leather is quite rigid and thick, comparing it to the Travelers Notebooks it is much firmer. The leather is really smooth and nicely sealed and finished off round the edges. There are four internal elastic bands and a thicker brown elastic band that secures the notebook on the outside. The interior of the cover is also really smooth and not textured. On the reverse of the cover the brand logo is embossed at the bottom of the cover in the centre. I find this quite large and prominent due to its positioning and personally think it would be much nicer if it were a little smaller.

The smooth finish on the interior of the leather cover

The smooth finish on the interior of the leather cover

I have been using the Navigator with two notebooks. Initially I did have four notebooks in the cover maxing it out but I found when full it’s just too big and bulky making it hard to actually write in the notebooks. I’ve found two is a happy middle ground. I have one Clairefontaine notebook which I use for my morning pages and a Rhodia notebook for my studying. I don’t have anything else in this cover, no pockets, no clear pouches or anything similar. I literally use this cover as a holder for A5 notebooks that I am using and it works well. It’s taken on a very different set up to my Travelers Notebooks which become a bit crazy and have all sorts of stuff packed in them.

Simple set-up, only 2 notebooks

Simple set-up, only 2 notebooks

I have been using my Navigator for around two months using it everyday, mainly at home. I have found that over this time it has become more pliable and the leather has softened a little. It has acquired some small markings with use but it doesn’t mark easily, the ones I have took some effort. I am not sure if I could use the Navigator on the move. Personally I don’t think the A5 size is portable but more than that the bulk of the cover would be a little prohibitive. I think as a cover for use at home or in an office environment that this is perfect. It looks smart, holds the items you need and can be expanded to work around you. I think that with more use and over a prolonged period of time this cover will age beautifully.

Comparisons against the Travelers Notebook, left the passport size in Camel, right the regular size in Brown. This also shows how thick the elastic is on the Start Bay cover.

Comparisons against the Travelers Notebook, left the passport size in Camel, right the regular size in Brown. This also shows how thick the elastic is on the Start Bay cover.

I really like my Navigator and the brand that Start Bay Notebooks have built. They are a great British company that are producing high quality covers. If you are in the market for an A5 leather notebook cover and want a high quality finish then this is definitely the cover for you. They do offer a range of different sizes and accessories, that I have not used, but I would suspect based on my experience with the Navigator that they would also be worthy of a try.

Thank you to Start Bay Notebooks for sending me the beautiful Navigator to review.

1 Week, 1 Pen/Pencil Mini Series - Week 1 Review

I have successfully completed my first week in this mini series exploring if I can use 1 pen or pencil for a full week. Before starting out on this endeavour I had a few questions in mind to focus my reflection on each different writing implement.

Week 1 - Kaweco AL Sport and J. Herbin Bleu Nuit.

The Kaweco AL Sport is always a pen I have inked up. Kaweco fountain pens are a staple in my writing toolkit with the AL Sport being one of my preferred choices due to the aluminium barrel.

After successfully using this fountain pen for a week my opinions have not altered in any way, I enjoy it just as much as I did before. The fine nib that I have on this pen works well for most writing tasks, from journaling through to simple note taking. The size and durability of the Kaweco AL Sport mean its ideal for throwing in my bag and using on the move. On most occasions I did this without a pen case and had no concerns and about the pen getting damaged in any way.

Morning Pages in my Startbay Notebook

Morning Pages in my Startbay Notebook

In terms of the ink partnership, J. Herbs Bleu Nuit was a new ink choice for me. After enjoying J. Herbins Lie de The I bought a pack of the Bleu Nuit cartridges specifically to use in this fountain pen. The colour combination works well due to the cool blue tones of this ink and the dark grey barrel on the Kaweco AL Sport. Being a blue ink this also meant it was suitable for most tasks.

During this week I haven’t had a requirement to fill out any official forms or send any post. As a result I have not encountered any problems with the choice of ink. I have mainly used my fountain pen in notebooks of my choosing that are fountain pen friendly. I think for tasks other than this the ink choice would have let this option down. For example addressing an envelope with this ink would involve the risk of it getting wet and the address running off the envelope. Similarly I could not fill in or sign many official forms with this pen. Therefore whilst the pen option would be fine, I am not sure as the only ink I could settle on Bleu Nuit for practicality purposes.

Daily reflections in my Travelers Notebook weekly refill

Daily reflections in my Travelers Notebook weekly refill

Finally, I am surprised that I haven’t used more ink this week. I have only used a little over half an ink cartridge. With my morning pages routine, journaling and general note taking I would have suspected I would have consumed more ink. I guess I don’t write as much as I thought, which then leads me to believe I shouldn’t have so many fountain pens inked up at once as the ink will tend to sit in the pen and potentially clog the feed.

Final thoughts on Week 1

The Kaweco AL Sport was always going to be a nice easy introduction into this exercise. I know I enjoy using this fountain pen and if I really had to only have one fountain pen to use I could settle on this one. The size of the pen makes it an ideal travel companion and I have always found the Kaweco nibs write well. J. Herbins Bleu Nuit whilst a lovely ink would not be a practical ink for a variety of different uses. However I have discovered another ink colour that I enjoy using and it really does go very well with my Kaweco AL Sport.

Onto week 2 and the Blackwing 211

Onto week 2 and the Blackwing 211

Week 2 - Blackwing 211 pencil

In my original post outlining this mini series I had settled on the Blackwing 24 as one of my pencils of choice. However after going back through some old posts I realised I have already used this pencil for a full week and written about it on the blog. Therefore I have made an adjustment to this pencil swapping it for the Blackwing 211.

I really enjoy Blackwing pencils and struggled to pick one for this experiment therefore swapping the 24 for the 211 wasn't a hard decision. Generally I prefer using pencils with a harder graphite therefore the 211 fits this bill. Pencils rarely top my choice of writing utensils so I am intrigued to see how I get on during the week and how much I wear the pencil down.

In case you missed it you can find out why I am running this exercise here in the introductory post.